Lewisham residents face paying nearly £100 extra for council tax on average after a hike of 4.99 per cent was approved by full council on Wednesday (March 3).  

The rise is the biggest increase that can be made without the council holding a referendum, but Lewisham said it has been forced into it by central Government.  

Lewisham’s lead member for finance told the council that the Conservative Government is “continuing to shift local government resourcing away from central funding to local income raising”.  

Overall council tax for 2021/22 is set to increase by 5.9 per cent, when the Greater London Authority (GLA) precept hike is included.  

This means council tax for a Band D property for 2021/22 will be £1,743.62, up £97.18 from the year before.    

Along with the 4.99 per cent increase in council tax, the budget includes a proposed rent increase of 1.5 per cent, an average of £1.46 per week.    

Mayor of Lewisham, Damien Egan, presented the coming year’s budget, which includes £28 million in cuts. £40 million are planned for the next three years. 

News Shopper: Council tax increases

“We know it’s been a very difficult year for everyone, particularly those who have lost loved ones to the virus.  

“Yet while our lives have changed dramatically over the past 12 months, this Government’s attitude to councils like Lewisham has not.  

“Over the last ten years successive Conservative governments have cut this council’s funding and our budget has been slashed in real terms from over £400 million to just over £240 million today,” he said.  

See more: Budget cuts Lewisham: Services will be affected

See more: Lewisham Council publishes draft budget cuts

See more: Lewisham Council budget discussed

See more: CAMHS cut to be ringfenced, says Lewisham Council

Mayor Egan said he had “no doubt” that the cuts would leave Lewisham worse off.  

“And the blame for that lies squarely with the Conservative Government,” he said.  

Cllr Amanda De Ryk, cabinet member for finance and resources, presented the budget report.  

She said: “We are recommending the maximum increase [in council tax] because services are stretched after ten years of austerity funding and the impact of the Covid pandemic on Lewisham residents and the council.  

“If we don’t take the maximum increase that the Government assumes we should, we will be forced to make deeper cuts to services and will be penalised in future Government calculations.” 

The council is proposing a £556.3 million capital programme over the next two years, most of which is earmarked for building homes.  

According to the budget report less than half of its capital programme, and within that only 30 per cent of the council’s Building for Lewisham programme, for 2020/21 is expected to be delivered.  

“This significant under-delivery is mainly due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic where sites and works were paused at stages through the lockdowns of 2020.  

“The Housing Revenue Account (HRA) in particular is behind plan.  

“The Building for Lewisham programme and stock condition survey for the HRA capital programme are being reviewed.  

“Assuming affordability and viability these delays in planned works will be rolled forward to future years and the plan updated to recover the delivery ambition,” the report states.